New Puck Daddy: I’m a big fan of the work Brendan Shanahan is doing for the NHL
In the wake of my Deadspin post, I haven’t really been sure what to think.
First and foremost, I’m happy about it. Obviously it’s a great thing for my career, and the article was well received, if not in the comment section (if you know Deadspin, you know it really wasn’t all that bad in there), then as evidenced by the fact that it’s recieved some 23,000 views, 140 comments, and over 215 “likes” on facebook in the span of about 20 hours so far. And the fact that it’s still in the site’s header with some of their bigger articles says something too. I’ve always been a reader there, so it was great to have the chance to contribute.
On the other hand, I feel a little…”off” about something - not about my message in the piece, because I really do think Nabokov is being a clod (I’ve heard allll the arguments from people who disagree by now, points heard. I still disagree, and that’s just the way this one is gonna go), but about two things:
One, the language, and two, for calling someone out with something I could probably never say to their face, whether I believe it to be true or not. As one commentor noted, I’m usually more even-handed than that, but whatever, two doesn’t grind on me near as much.
The language thing is interesting though, because….I really do talk like that, unfortunately.
Blame it on the lifetime of growing up within the sport or whatever, but it’s a reality. As much as I post cat pics, I really am a guy’s guy at the core. I’m conscious of my mouth around people I don’t know well (also on TV and radio), and I can usually speak fairly intelligently and meet general public standards (still batting 100% in the “no cursing on tv/radio spots” thing). But there are times when Bri and I will marvel at how quickly and casually I’ll use an eff-bomb with someone I just met.
When we drove to Phoenix from Canada, we stopped outside a public bathroom that was in the middle of the desert and totally, totally desolate. There was another car there though, and this guy probably ten years my senior was walking back to it. I looked around and said to the guy “wow, we’re really in the middle of fucking nowhere, huh?” The guy frowned, nodded, and carried on.
I was like Jim Carrey in the “I’ve had better” scene for the next ten minutes. How the eff does that happen? It’s totally unacceptable and I feel horrible, but I dunno…. I’m working on it.
Anyway, it was refreshing to get to write with that unquestioned green-light, to just let the words flow naturally as they occur in my head. I’m clearly desensitized to the words, so for me, they’re just a part of the dialogue running around through my gray matter (again, unfortunately).
That said, after submitting that post, to some extent I felt like I let guys like Chris Jones and Bruce Arthur down.
I feel like the people I look up to when it comes to the written word would read my Deadspin post, tsk-tsk and shake their head and write me off for the lack of professionalism in my column. They may have enjoyed it, but that’s beside the point. I enjoy Family Guy, but I don’t consider it quality TV.
And so, I’m in the midst of asking myself: who or what do I want to be when it comes to writing? Drew Magary or Chris Jones, both of whom I enjoy and have found success? Obviously I want to be “me,” but I’m still finding that.
And another part of me is asking: why the eff do you care so much what other people think? But hey, truth is, I’m a sensitive guy when it comes to this crap.
I do aspire to write bigger, better things - I intend to write the type of pieces that make people feel something the way Jones’ so often do, but the reality is, that’s pretty hard to do when you write as often as I do, solely about hockey, and don’t leave the house to do so.
The response to the column was overwhelming positive – just check my twitter “@’s.” I’d wager 90% of the people really liked it, I assume because it really is fun to occassionally read something that’s straight out of the dressing room or bar.
Still, I don’t want to lose any credibility in the process.
Deadspin, if anything, will actually gain me a measure of credibility; I’m aware of that. And the next time they ask me to write something for them (which may not be for awhile, my agreement with Yahoo! advises I don’t spread myself too thin), I’ll write it the exact same way, partly because it is more “real,” if less beautiful.
But yeah, this is just me trying to hash out my feelings on it. I do know that there’s one thing I don’t feel about the post, and that’s regret.
Oh, and let me clear one more thing up so I can link to this piece everytime I get the same comment:
I KNOW I never played in the NHL. I know I wasn’t good enough to even be considered an AHL player. I spent the majority of my time in the ECHL, and I was pretty decent there. That was all. But I never went to journalism school, and hockey was my education.
When outlets hire me to write, they hire me because I can write about behind closed doors, and they like when I can relate my own experiences to current events, because I can talk not only about what’s happening outside the eight-pound human head, but also inside.
When I write about My Career in every goddamn post, it’s a conscious effort to relate the insights in a way other writers can’t. You have to carve your niche out, and for now, mine is fairly unique.
I’m not so proud of those playing years that I feel the need to exploit their awesomeness in every post, it’s just how I make my living.
And further: I’m also not jealous of anyone in the NHL, and I say that with sincerity. I want part of my niche to be that I speak my honest opinion, meaning that if I think the Isles suck, I’m pointing it out for that reason and that reason only, not because I secretely wish I was on the team. I’m extremely happy with my life with, Bri, cats, beer, palm trees, sweatpants and a flexible schedule, I assure you.
Anyway, that’s a little “the more you know” on me for my readers, who by the way, deserve muchos thanks for all the support, but most importantly, for being able to conduct legitimate, informative conversations in the comments section.
Everyone says they have “the best readers,” but I dare you to find me a site where the commentors show each other more respect.
So thanks for everything so far!